Choosing an online payroll service is both easier and more complicated than ever before.
On the plus side, there is no shortage of options, which increases the likelihood of finding the perfect service for your business.
Conversely, with so many services to compare, it’s not always easy to make a final decision.
With our help, you’ll find it easy to choose an online payroll service that suits your every want and need.
The Best Online Payroll Services Options to Consider
When It Makes Sense to Invest Into Online Payroll Services
It doesn’t matter if you have one employee or 100+, payroll compliance is extremely important. Not only does it ensure that your employees are paid on time and in full, but it helps protect against costly penalties.
Whether you rely on a payroll service is a personal decision. You’re not required to use an online service, but you are required to maintain compliance with all local, state, and federal tax agencies.
It makes sense to invest in an online payroll service if:
- You want to avoid the time-consuming process of running payroll yourself
- You want to ensure accuracy
- You want someone on your side who can help you maintain compliance
- You want a service that can provide your employees with important information and answers to their questions
For those who are on the fence, comparing the pros, cons, and features of multiple services can help you decide if it’s the right decision.
#1 – SurePayroll — The Best For Household Employees
For more than 20 years, SurePayroll has been serving small businesses in every industry imaginable.
While any type of business can use SurePayroll, it’s payroll service for household employees stands out from the crowd.
If you have a household employee, such as a nanny or butler, you’re required by law to pay payroll taxes. SurePayroll has designed its service to be simple, cost-effective, and straight-forward, which is just what busy household employers are looking for.
Top features include:
- Run payroll anytime, from anywhere: With SurePayroll, you can run payroll from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. As long as you have internet access, you can get the job done.
- Full-service and self-service options: With full-service, SurePayroll takes over the entire process on your behalf. With self-service, you’re responsible for inputting the data necessary to run payroll.
- Tax filing guarantee: It doesn’t matter if you choose full-service or self-service, you’re backed by SurePayroll’s tax filing guarantee. If they make an error in your tax liability calculations, they’ll pay the penalty. Talk about peace of mind!
Potential downfalls of SurePayroll include:
- Designed for small businesses: Even though mid to large-sized businesses can use the service, it’s features are geared more toward those with 100 employees or less.
- Outdated interface: Upon signing up, you’ll realize that the SurePayroll interface isn’t in line with what you’d expect in 2020.
SurePayroll also excels in customer support, with the option to contact an experienced payroll professional via phone, live chat, or email.
In regards to price, SurePayroll requires you to complete the quote form on its website for more information. Cost depends on the number of employees and whether you choose full-service or self-service.
For household employers and small businesses, SurePayroll is solid across the board.
#2 – Gusto — The Best For Sole Proprietors
As a sole proprietor, it’s easy to overlook the importance of choosing an online payroll service. After all, you’re the only employee, so you don’t see much need for professional help.
But then you meet Gusto.
Companies of all sizes can use it effectively, but it really shines if you’re a sole proprietor.
Let’s take a look at some of its top features:
- Electronic everything: From tax payments to year-end filings, Gusto allows you to do everything electronically. This saves you time and money, while also eliminating the possibility of something important getting lost in the mail.
- Automated pay runs: Once you load all the necessary information into the system, you can set it to run payroll automatically. This is particularly helpful as a sole proprietor, as you don’t have to concern yourself with employees wanting to make changes.
- Easy on-boarding: Every time you hire a new employee, you’re required to add them to your payroll system. Gusto makes this easy with its simplified on-boarding process.
Some of the things you may not like about Gusto include:
- Less than desirable customer support: It’s easy enough to get ahold of the sales department, but when it comes to support you may face some issues.
- Complex pricing structure: Starting at $25/employee per month, Gusto is priced to sell. However, as you learn more about its different plans, you may find it confusing.
Gusto is a modern solution to processing payroll online. With more pros than cons, it’s worth a second look.
#3 – QuickBooks — The Best For Integration with QuickBooks Accounting Software
When it comes to name recognition, you won’t find many online payroll services with as much clout as QuickBooks. This is due in large part to the fact that many businesses are already familiar with QuickBooks accounting software.
If you’re interested in an online payroll provider that efficiently integrates with your QuickBooks accounting software, you have to start here.
Top features include:
- Industry-leading direct deposit speed: Your employees want to be paid on time, every time. And QuickBooks makes sure this happens. Direct deposits are made quickly and no later than the next business day.
- Electronic filing: Just the same as Gusto, electronic filing is never a concern with QuickBooks. From your monthly tax payments to year-end filings, you can cut paper out of this part of your business.
- Easy to set-up: With step by step tutorials, the set-up process should only take a few minutes. And once you’re familiar with the interface, it’s easy to add and remove employees.
The benefits of QuickBooks are powerful, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider:
- It’s best (and easiest) to integrate with QuickBooks accounting software: If you use this software, it’s not a problem. But if you don’t, you may find integration challenging.
- Hit or miss customer service: As one of the largest payroll companies on the list, QuickBooks often struggles to keep up with the demands of its customers. If you have a question or concern, it may take a while to get help.
When it comes to pricing, QuickBooks has something for everyone. In addition to a free trial, you can get started for as little as $13.50/month plus $4/month for each additional employee.
#4 – ADP — The Best For Scaling Companies
Much the same as QuickBooks, ADP is a well-known payroll service that offers solutions for businesses of all sizes.
For small companies and startups looking to scale in the future, ADP is an excellent choice. Its system is built to scale alongside your company, thus ensuring that you never experience payroll growing pains.
Here’s what you’ll like about ADP:
- Flexibility: No two businesses are the same, and ADP understands that. And for that reason, they have flexible plans that allow you to get everything you need and nothing you don’t.
- 24/7 customer support: When it comes to customer support, ADP is the top-dog on this list. With the ability to connect with an experienced support professional 24/7, you never have to wait for assistance.
- Easy to integrate with a variety of HCM solutions: As you grow, you may need ADP for more than payroll. It has products for things such as recruitment, retirement, benefits, and outsourcing.
Now, let’s check out a couple of downfalls:
- Upcharges: As you get up and running, you’ll find that ADP tries to sneak in upcharges on you. For example, there are set-up charges that can add up.
- Required to call for a quote: Much the same as SurePayroll, you have to call ADP if you want a pricing quote. This can slow down the process, especially when competitors like Gusto and QuickBooks provide transparent online pricing.
For scaling companies interested in doing business with a well-known provider that offers a variety of solutions, ADP is a good choice.
#5 – Payroll4Free.com — The Best For Saving Money
Many sole proprietors and small businesses run their own payroll to save money. Even if it’s time-consuming and stressful, they’d rather deal with it than part with a dollar.
With Payroll4Free.com, you may be able to get the best of both worlds. If money is what matters most, you’re not likely to find a better deal.
As the name suggests, Payroll4Free.com allows you to use its service free of cost. It’s able to do so by placing ads inside the software you use to run payroll. Yes, it can be distracting, but it’s a good tradeoff if you’re looking to save.
Top features of Payroll4Free.com include:
- Free for up to 25 employees: As long as you have 25 employees or fewer, Payroll4Free.com is always free.
- Variety of free add-ons: You can do more than run payroll with Payroll4Free.com. Add-ons include a payroll calculator, employee portal, and detailed reporting.
- Direct deposit or paper check: Let your employees choose, so you can pay them the way they want.
Areas of concern include:
- Outdated interface: If you want a pretty, intuitive interface, Payroll4Free.com isn’t for you. It’s outdated and difficult to navigate.
- Ads: Payroll4Free.com has to make money somehow, and they do so by placing ads inside the software. This can be distracting to both you and your employees.
As a smaller online payroll service, Payroll4Free.com is able to provide above-average customer support via email and phone.
Although it lags behind the competition in some key areas, Payroll4Free.com is 100% free. And for some, that’ll always be enough to win them over.
Methodology For Choosing The Best Online Payroll Services
There is no right or wrong way to evaluate online payroll services, but some details deserve more attention than others. We focused on a variety of factors to ensure a comprehensive breakdown of each, with a focus on:
Some people want nothing more than the basics, while others are interested in a service with a full set of features.
Top features include a payroll calculator, direct deposit, electronic tax payments, and the ability to manage both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors.
Money, money, money. When choosing a payroll service, consider the financial impact on your business. Some services, such as Payroll4Free.com are free of cost, while others, such as Gusto, are at the high end of the scale.
The key is to understand what you get in exchange for your money.
Customer support is a critical component of any online payroll service. Even if you know how to use the system and trust your provider to do the right thing, there are sure to be times when you have questions.
The best providers in regards to customer support are available via phone, email, and live chat.
Online payroll services are designed to save you time, remove stress from the payroll process, and help you avoid costly errors.
Once you settle on a budget and have a clear idea of the features you require, it’s easier to compare your options. And with the help of the information above, you now have what you need to confidently choose an online payroll service.